Tennis Vs Badminton (What Are The Differences)

Both tennis and badminton are two very popular sports. It is a matter of personal preference which one you choose. However, tennis and badminton are easily mistaken by beginners. There are some similarities between them, but overall they are completely different.

Tennis and badminton are racket games with differences in scoring and mechanics. Badminton gained popularity as a more casual sport with simpler scoring rules, while tennis is more competitive and has more complicated scoring.

Let us take a closer look at how each of these sports is played, so you can decide which one suits you and your family.

An image of rackets for tennis and for badminton on a red background.


Tennis is a racket sport played on a tennis court. It is played by two players – in a singles match, or two pairs of players – in a doubles match. The main purpose of the game is to hit the ball within the lines of the tennis court over the net in a way your opponent is unable to successfully return the ball.


Tennis was developed from the French game “Paume“ in the 12th century when it was played without rackets. The ball was hit with the hand. The first tennis ball was introduced in the 14th century, the first tennis court was built in England in the 15th century, and the first racket was made in Italy in the 16th century.

Tennis equipment and court

You don’t need a lot of equipment to play tennis. What you need is a racket, a couple of tennis balls and good sports shoes. That is it! The tennis racket consists of a handle and a rounded rim with a surface area made of strings. The string surface is used to hit the tennis ball across the court.

A tennis court has a rectangular shape divided into two equal halves by a net running across the center. There are four main surfaces of the court: clay, grass, carpet, and hard surface.

Tennis rules

Tennis is a straightforward sport played in singles or doubles. It is not a team sport like basketball, so players don’t have usual roles or positions. It’s only in doubles when players need to be aware of player positioning and of their partner’s space.

In essence, a tennis match revolves around the opposing players’ alternating service on opposite sides of the court. Every match begins with a serve – a shot player hits to start every point. The server hits the ball over the net from the baseline of the court. The ball must cross diagonally across the court and bounce once.

If the service is good, then the players alternate hitting the ball. The ball can’t bounce twice on the ground. A player scores a point when the opponent fails to return the ball.

How to play tennis was never an issue, but the scoring structure is usually what confuses people. Fear no more, here is a simple explanation of how scoring in tennis works!

Scoring in tennis

How many times have you heard “Game, Set, Match!“ And how many times have you thought, “Well, what does that mean?“

Let us break it down a little more clearly. A competition in tennis is called a match. A match consists of points, games, and sets. To win a tennis match, you have to:

  • earn a minimum of four points to win a game
  • play a minimum of six games to win a set
  • win no less than two sets (sometimes three) to win a tennis match

Each tennis match starts with a coin toss to determine which player will serve first.


Each game consists of a series of points. A player must earn at least four points to win the game. The points scale from 0 (or “love“), 15, 30, and 40. A player wins a game with a two-point advantage.


A set is determined when a player wins a minimum of six games with at least a two-game advantage. However, if both players have five games, then the set goes to seven games. If the set score ends up six to six, a so-called tie-break or sudden death will be played.

This is where people get confused. Think of a tie-break as an extra game that players play. Keep in mind, there still has to be a two-game advantage.


A match is over when the player wins by at least two sets out of three. For example, if a player wins two sets, then the match is over, and he or she is the winner. If each of the players wins one set, then they play the third set to determine who the winner is.


Badminton is a racket sport played in singles, doubles, or mixed doubles. Instead of a ball, players hit a shuttlecock (or birdie) back and forth over the net. The main purpose of the game is to hit the shuttlecock across the net in a way your opponent is unable to return the shuttlecock.


The roots of badminton are traced to ancient Greece, Egypt, and China. Those ancient civilizations played a so-called “battledore and shuttlecock“ game. Players would hit a shuttlecock with a bat as many times as possible until the shuttlecock hit the ground. In the 19th century in India, badminton, as we know it today, started to develop.

Badminton equipment and court

To play badminton, you will need rackets, shuttlecocks, and good sports shoes. A badminton racket has a longer and thinner handle and is much lighter in weight than a tennis racket. A badminton shuttlecock is also quite low in mass than a tennis ball.

Badminton is played on a rectangle court divided into two by a net. As a general rule, wooden flooring is the best choice, along with synthetic mats, which are used as a surface of the court.

Badminton rules

Professionally, badminton is played indoors in teams comprised of players in singles, doubles, or mixed doubles teams.  The aim is to hit the shuttlecock with the racket over the net inside your opponent’s half of the court.

Every player is on their side of the court, and they take turns in hitting the shuttlecock over the net. A player can hit a shuttlecock only once after it passes over the net. If it touches the ground, then you lose the point.

Scoring in badminton

Scoring in badminton is simpler than in tennis, although both sports have similarities in scoring.

A competition in badminton is called a match. A match consists of two to three games. A game is played to 21 points. If the score is tied at 20:20, the player who gains a two-point lead first wins. Each match starts with a coin toss to determine which player will serve first, just like in tennis.

Tennis vs Badminton: The Differences

As we have seen, tennis and badminton are two sports that are alike in many ways. Nevertheless, people tend to prefer one over the other. It makes sense because when you compare properly these two sports they are poles apart.

We assume that tennis and badminton being racket sports are almost the same. But once you start playing these sports, the truth is quite the opposite.

Difference #1: the rackets

Badminton rackets are thinner, longer, more tensioned, and lighter than tennis rackets, which are heavier, wider, shorter, and larger when compared to badminton rackets.

Even if you have never played tennis or badminton, the difference between the rackets is obvious. In badminton, the rackets are thin, long, and light-weighted. They have more tension in the string. As a result, more power is applied to the lightweight shuttlecock.

Whereas in tennis, the rackets are heavy, wide, short, and have less tension in the string, so less power is applied to the heavyweight tennis ball.

Difference #2: the ball

A tennis ball is made of rubber and covered in felt, which is the reason why it is heavy. On the other hand, the “ball“ used in badminton is called a shuttlecock or birdie. It has a conical shape made of synthetical plastic with feathers overlapping each other. That is why it is so lightweight.

Difference #3: the rules

When it comes to rules, there are many differences between tennis and badminton.

One of the basic ones in tennis is that the ball is allowed to hit the ground once before the player hits it back at the opponent. In badminton, when the shuttlecock comes in contact with the ground, it is considered a lost point.

The scoring structure is quite different also. In a nutshell, in tennis, a player wins with the best two (sometimes three) sets. In badminton, a player wins with the best two (sometimes three) games. To make this more clear, sets in tennis are equivalent to badminton games.

We mentioned before that badminton is always played indoors. Why is that the case? Because the shuttlecocks are so light in weight, even a little wind can cause difficulties. But this is true only for professional players. If you want to play badminton as a casual activity, we always recommend outdoor playing. Tennis is usually played outdoors but it can be played indoors as well.

The tennis courts are much bigger than the badminton ones. Actually, they are almost double in size of the average badminton court. The net on the tennis court is positioned closer to the ground, while the net on the badminton court is much higher.

Tennis vs Badminton: The Similarities

Despite their obvious differences, tennis and badminton do share some similar features. Both are racket sports, both courts have a net, both are Olympic sports, and can be played as singles or doubles.

To the untrained eye, tennis and badminton are very similar sports, but except for the general similar features mentioned above, there is nothing else.

Is Tennis or Badminton Right for You?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is a matter of personal preference. The best way to find out is to try both of them. Tennis and badminton require agility, speed, and good coordination. But here are a couple of facts that will help you in your decision.

It is safe to say, that tennis is a more popular sport than badminton, thanks to better promotion. Tennis is played everywhere in the world while badminton is more popular in Asian countries.

Anyone who can hold a racket, and move around the court can play both sports. In badminton, there is more vertical movement and jumping, while in tennis there is more horizontal movement. An average tennis match is much longer (up to three hours) than an average badminton match (up to one hour).

Although a badminton match is much shorter than a game of tennis, a badminton player runs twice as much as a tennis player. This means a shorter match – more running. On the other hand, a tennis match is longer but there is less running, and more breaks between the games and sets.

An image of Courts for playing tennis and badminton.

Key Takeaways

Both sports require agility, a strong arm, and good technique. Tennis requires more endurance and stamina, while badminton is all about speed and power.

Comparing badminton and tennis is like comparing apples and oranges. They do have some similarities, but overall, they are two completely different sports. The purpose of this article is not to discover which of these sports is better but to invite you to explore both of them and find out which one is for you and your family.

When you dive deeper into the comparison of these two sports, you notice how different they are. Each has its own unique dynamic. Badminton is a faster and shorter game with minimal breaks. A tennis match lasts longer and has more opportunities for breaks, but it is still a fast-paced game.

Next Steps

Both sports are very much loved and played by different people. Get out of your comfort zone and try tennis and badminton. From experience, tennis is a great way to socialize and catch up with friends.

At the same time, badminton is a fantastic sport to play with your kids outdoors and spend some quality time with your family. It is easier to start playing badminton casually because you don’t need a court. Your own garden will do the trick!

Whatever racket sport you choose to play, they are a pretty good way to have fun and maintain your health!

Want to know more about badminton versus tennis? Let’s not leave out some other popular racket sports. Let’s Compare: Badminton, Tennis, Table Tennis, and Pickleball – because you’ll be surprised by them all!


Learning from your own experiences is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.

  • Deseret News. “Origins of Tennis, Badminton, and Racquetball.” Deseret News, 30 June 2019,

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